Back-up care and nursery provider Bright Horizons UK has announced that it will invest more than £10 million in its early years practitioners’ salaries and benefits next month in order to recognise differences in the cost of living across the UK.
The organisation, which employs more than 7,500 members of staff, will remove the age-related national minimum wage (NMW) for those under the age of 23 in April. This means all employees will be on or above the NMW, which is set to go up to £9.50 an hour from 1 April, a 6.6% increase on the current rate of £8.91.
The new minimum salary in its London-based nurseries will also be above the voluntary living wage of £11.05 per hour. This pay commitment will also see the introduction of new pay bands for all other nursery roles including housekeepers, chefs and kitchen assistants.
In addition, the employer is also adding to its benefits package, focusing on employees’ emotional, physical and financial wellbeing. This is to recognise that improved wellbeing not only benefits the practitioner, but also the quality of their care and education provision for the children and families they support.
Ros Marshall, UK managing director at Bright Horizons, explained that he believes the “hard-working” practitioners deserve recognition, investment and support, as investing in a child is ultimately an investment in future society.
“Bright Horizons is committed to ensuring that skilled and well-supported practitioners are key to the quality of our early years services. We continually review and adapt our rewards and benefits for our colleagues and remain very proud of our industry-leading training and development, which provides our colleagues with a rewarding career path,” Marshall said.
Janine Leightley, HR director at Bright Horizons, added that the business’ aim is to change the way people think about early childhood, as the first five years of a child’s life lay the foundations for their future.
“The work of care practitioners is some of the most important work there is and Bright Horizons believes that investing in the practitioners who care for and teach our children can have lifelong implications in a child’s development,” she said.